Are telomeres really the key to living longer, youthful lives?

Telomeres — the “caps” on the end of chromosomes that protect the DNA from damage — have been associated with greater longevity. In theory, longer telomeres should allow a cell to divide more times and therefore live longer. However, a new study has suggested that longer telomeres could increase a person’s risk of chronic health conditions. So are longer telomeres key to longevity, or should we be looking to other ways of living longer, healthier lives?

happy older man wearing sunglasses adjusting black and white polka dot shirt under orange jacket

Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for many health conditions. However, some people seem to age better than others, enjoying an active, healthy existence long into old age. So how do they do this? Some credit a healthy lifestyle, others luck, and others genetics.

One theory about aging well lies in our chromosomes or, more specifically, our telomeres — protective lengths of repetitive deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)Trusted Source and protein found at the end of each chromosome.

Inside every cell in the human body there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each chromosome is made up of DNA wound around proteins. That DNA contains genesTrusted Source — inherited instructions for all the cell’s functions.

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